Using Mobile Versions

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Image courtesy of Zombie Factory

If the low bandwidth/mobile version of an OER has been developed properly, then using it should be easy.

Challenges

The most common problem with low bandwidth OER is that they still require too much bandwidth to download in a timely manner. If that situation occurs the best practice is to continue the lesson, but factoring in additional time for completion. In other situations, it is best to abandon the OER entirely, depending on the severity of the problem. After the lesson, you should evaluate the OER to see how it could be streamlined to require less bandwidth.

Reducing bandwidth in these situations often means shrinking images, breaking up pages of text or re-encoding video for smaller file sizes. It is always recommended that you try out your lesson using the available bandwidth before using it in the classroom.

Another common problem with mobile versions of an OER is device incompatibility. As mentioned earlier, there is no way you can test for all possible mobile devices. Therefore, you should focus on testing mobile devices that will be used during the lesson. Ideally, all learners would be using the same mobile device, but that is not always possible.

Another problem with mobile OER is the time taken for learners to become familiar with its use. Although mobile phone use is common among younger learners, not everyone knows how to use their phone's mobile browser, or can use SMS text messaging features. Before using a mobile version of an OER, make sure learners understand how to use their mobile device.

Opportunities

Once the above hurdles have been cleared, there are exciting opportunities for blended learning which includes the use of mobile devices. Paradoxically, some of the approaches overcome lack of access to computers and the internet by using the cell phone as an alternative channel. Innovative educational mobile applications/services include:

  • MobilED[1] - accessing wikipedia and other web sites via mobile devices and text to speech.

Notes

  1. http://www.mobiled.org/
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